Nationals: Strasburg Diagnosed With Flexor Mass Strain

Sep 7, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) is removed from the game with an apparent right arm injury during the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 7, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) is removed from the game with an apparent right arm injury during the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
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Good news for the Washington Nationals and Stephen Strasburg as his injury will not require surgery. His return, however, is uncertain.

Stephen Strasburg has a flexor mass strain and will not require surgery. The Washington Nationals hurler is out for an indefinite period.

In an afternoon press conference before Thursday night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, manager Dusty Baker and trainer Paul Lessard said the injury suffered in the third inning of Wednesday’s win over Atlanta came on a changeup that sailed high. The injury will require nothing as drastic as Tommy John surgery and Strasburg could pitch this season. The MRI taken showed no ligament damage.

Or not, depending on how the injury heals. Right now, it is rest for Strasburg.

Making his first start off the disabled list, he looked fantastic the first two innings. Snapping the fastball in at 97 MPH and mixing in the change, he ended up striking out three with superb control. He did not labor on the mound and had command of the strike zone. He appeared the picture of health.

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It was his grimace and balling the right hand into a fist that stunned the crowd at Nationals Park. From his reaction, the news could have been catastrophic for him and the Nationals postseason hopes.

It is unclear if, or when, Strasburg will pitch again this year. With a large 8.5 game bulge over the New York Mets, and Joe Ross about to return after a simulated game or minor league playoff start, Strasburg could miss the regular season with no problems and be fresh for the playoffs. That gives him nearly a month to be ready for a likely start in the National League Divisional Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The key is he needs to be pain-free when he pitches. On the verge of what could be the most successful season in franchise history, you know Strasburg is itching to pitch. After his 2011 surgery, an innings limit kept him out of the 2012 postseason. He lost his lone postseason start two years ago against the San Francisco Giants.

With a 15-4 record and a FIP of 2.93, Strasburg earned his declined trip to the All-Star Game. Now the question is balancing his health with the needs of the team. With his new seven-year contract starting next season, it is essential to keep his right arm healthy.